A customer-centric bank achieves this competitive advantage through using customer research and all forms of feedback, integrated with data on how customers use the bank’s products, services and channels to create valuable and actionable insight.
That competitive advantage will be lost if the bank looks inward. The bank must guard against confirmation bias. This is where the bank’s employees, including senior executives, rely upon their own interpretation of what customers need in a way that confirms or supports their prior beliefs or values.
Satisfaction surveys – these originated as paper-based surveys mailed to customers on a twelve-to-twenty-four-month cycle and have been replaced by online via an email to existing customers.
Event-driven surveys – these originated as paper-based surveys mailed to customers after an interaction between the customer and the bank but have been replaced by online surveys conducted through an email to existing customers.
Crowdsourcing through the Internet – because of their technology background, fintechs and neobanks have led the development of communities of users who provide beta testing of new app software, new ideas for functionality, and feedback on already released products and services.
Online communities – fintechs and neobanks have often approached the problem of design from a different point of view, one based upon their technology background and experience, creating customer/user communities that tested ‘beta’ versions of the product and software, providing valuable feedback.
Focus groups – these are business led, face-to-face sessions either on bank premises or off-site. They gather small groups of between ten and twenty customers or prospects who are invited based on the bank’s profile of them or their demographic characteristics.
Customer complaints – feedback from customers when something goes wrong is sometimes overlooked as a valuable source of insight that helps understand bad demand and its causes.
“Customer insight is the understanding of people’s motivation that you can use to drive actionable change.”
Wanderley, Carlos A Smarter Way to do Business (Amazon, 2019)
It must be remembered that the bank doesn’t exist in isolation. There are dozens, sometimes hundreds, of banks trying to offer their products to consumers, with the same range of products and service that sometimes leads consumers to say, “all banks are the same!”.
To succeed, the customer-centric bank must offer something that its competitors can’t or don’t want to do. They must offer a solution to a problem, help customers get a job done, or realise a dream that no other bank can do better (or be perceived as better by the consumer).
Only by knowing their customers and target customers can the bank define what the bank should offer, how they should go about it, and what their employees should focus on. This will differentiate the bank from its competitors.
The bank creates valuable customer insight by undertaking thorough research with customers and prospects through the above techniques, especially face-to-face focus groups, where bankers listen more than they speak. Employees listen to understand the participants’ dreams, problems and their attitudes towards money and banking, taking notes and gather the important points that customers make. At this point they don’t try and solve the customers’ problems or provide the solution. If they try to they will probably end up with the same proposition that they currently offer and won’t uncover new insight and find new, profitable solutions that their customers’ now want to buy and use.
From all the sources of research mentioned earlier, and focus groups, proposition managers and their teams can identify similar themes from the customer research and internal behavioural data to create a deep understanding of the customers.
They can then create tangible, profitable, and deliverable solutions, called Hypotheses, that may solve a group of customer’s problems, get a job done or satisfy a dream. The proposition manager can then test it against the bank’s business as usual activity to understand the difference that it will make.
By testing various hypotheses against the bank’s existing proposition, and against each other, using sample groups of customers, the proposition manager will develop the optimal proposition for the market.
We go into more detail in Customer Management Level II.